Sumatra: (Agencies: 4/10/2009): Qatar has joined international rescue efforts in Quake-hit Sumatra. Qatar‘s Search and Rescue Alkhoja team left the Emiri air-base yesterday to Indonesia at the head of first batch of aid to Sumatra earthquake victims. A well-equipped medical team accompanied Alkhoja as well as a shipment of 30 tons of medical, supplies, and accommodation equipments.
Specialist teams from around the world have begun arriving at co-ordination centres in Padang, waiting to be deployed to the field. There has been criticism of coordination of the many international and local agencies, with concerns that it is taking too long to get people working on the ground.
Hope is also diminishing in Padang, the capital of Sumatra, itself, where few buildings have been left undamaged. Four days after the 7.6 tremor, the scale of the disaster is becoming clear, with entire villages destroyed.
The worst hit area appeared to be the provincial capital of West Sumatra, Padang, a sprawling city of 900,000 where at least 376 bodies were recovered. Most of them were killed when scores of buildings, including hotels, hospitals, schools and public office were flattened.
Wednesday’s earthquake started at sea and quickly rippled through Sumatra, the westernmost island in the Indonesian archipelago.
Widespread road damage is preventing teams from reaching many of the injured beyond Padang, a city of 900,000 people that took the full force of the quake.
About 1,000 are known to have died; up to 3,000 more are said to be missing.
While rescue efforts are still concentrated in Padang, concern is increasing about areas outside the city, where the earthquake triggered huge landslides.
A lack of heavy digging equipment made it nearly impossible to pry apart giant slabs of concrete from toppled buildings, officials said.
The crushed remains of the dead were beginning to decompose in the tropical heat and mass funeral arrangements were being made by families at local mosques.
With communications and power supplies still down in many areas, fuel was being rationed to focus on locating thousands still missing.